An Heirloom Seed Giveaway to Help Get your Garden Started

An Heirloom Seed Giveaway to Help Get your Garden Started

Garden Update Number 2

I wish that I had a wonderful update on my garden for you.  But alas, it is still under a foot of snow.  (Although, much more exciting, I do bring a Baker Creek heirloom seeds giveaway to you.)  After having a TON of snow (for our little island) this winter, it finally melted away and we had a couple of beautiful weeks of sunshine, warmth and gardening.  

Then a cold front moved in and we were once again surrounded by a foot of snow.  So, instead of gardening, I am dreaming of gardening, reviewing my plans, and keeping busy with the housework, schooling and the kids.  

Snowy garden area in early 2017, come check out my blog post for a full update on what we are doing in the garden and for my very first giveaway! Baker Creek heirloom seeds giveaway! Come enter today.

We are dreaming big this year with the garden.  

Last year I had a newborn baby and we didn’t plant much (honestly I can’t remember if I even planted ANYTHING!).  I had one square foot garden bed 12 ft. x 4 ft. (48 square feet) that I eventually gave over to the chickens as we expanded their outdoor area.  This year I have a new garden bed that is 35 ft. x 17 ft. for a grand total of 595 square feet!  I am in awe that my new garden is over 10 times bigger than my old garden.

New garden area in early 2017, come check out my blog post for a full update on what we are doing in the garden and for my very first giveaway! Baker Creek heirloom seeds giveaway! Come enter today.

With this drastic increase in area comes a drastic increase in the learning curve as well.  I have always done raised beds with square foot gardening.  Before moving into the country, we lived in the city.   I had to be more resourceful with the smaller yard so square foot gardening made sense.  Now, it’s a whole new ball game and we are going old school! 

But, I’m not going to delve too much into my actual plans (that’s my next gardening update!!).

 Today is all about seeds. 

Every avid gardener looks forward to January because amidst all the after Christmas blues that can take over comes the precious new seed catalogue.  We begin to dream of greens popping up through freshly turned soils.  Maybe even envisioning the beautiful salad that will grace our meals filled with delectable treats grown purely by our love and care.  (Okay, maybe that’s pushing it…)

 In the past I’ve used many starters (and they are still my preference for growing tomatoes).  But, because we plan to go big (or grow big) with our garden, it is more cost effective to use seeds.  And there are so many amazing choices when you start from seed!

With my great expectations and lofty visions, I tried to stick to only foods we know we like and eat while we embrace the learning and elbow grease required to plant and care for our new garden area.  

These are the seeds we picked:

  • beans: tricolor bush beans, Taylor horticultural drying beans, Matilda pole beans and Scarlet runner beans
  • beets: a beet blend including Chioggia, Detroit Supreme, Early Wonder Tall Top and Golden beets
  • cabbage: charmant (this is my first time growing cabbages!)
  • carrots: a rainbow blend of orange, white, purple and red carrots
  • cucumber: tasty green english cukes, patio snackers and heirloom lemon cucumbers
  • edible flowers: nasturtiums
  • herbs: basil, borage, chives, cilantro, dill, rosemary and parsley
  • kale: rainbow lacinato and russian red kale
  • lettuce: red salad bowl
  • melons: sugar baby’s (these are Izzy’s pick!)
  • peas: super sugar and sugar daddy snap peas, little marvel shelling peas & mammoth melting sugar snow peas
  • pumpkins: jack of all trades
  • radishes: easter egg blend of white, red and purple radishes
  • spinach: olympia and monstrueux de viroflay (also an heirloom variety)
  • squash: victory butternut
  • summer squash: black beauty (green) and goldrush (yelllow) zucchini & sunburst scallopini

I envision my garden overflowing with leaves, vines and an abundant harvest of color.  And I want is the same for you!!!  So, to help you on your journey, my wonderful friends from the Happy at Home Bloggers Network, and I are hosting a giveaway!

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds Giveaway

One lucky person is going to be the winner of 10 assorted packets of Baker Creek Heirloom… Click To Tweet

If you aren’t familiar with them, Baker Creek is a family run business.  They now carry over 2,000 varieties of heirloom flowers, herbs and vegetables.  They provide seeds for school gardens and other educational projects as well as supplying free seeds to many of the world’s poorest countries.   For more information on the company or to browse through their awesome catalogue you can find them at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Make sure to let all your gardening friends know.  Here’s a pin to share with them!

The Happy At Home Bloggerd Network is proud to present its first giveaway!  Check out my blog post for entry details and come enter to win our Baker creek heirloom seeds giveaway.

 

A Baker Creek Seeds Giveaway

I’ve teamed up with several bloggers to bring you this giveaway from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. We’re all writing about gardening today, so I encourage you to visit each of their blogs for more gardening fun. We might as well feed that spring fever, right? I know we’re all ready for good weather so we can get our hands dirty once again.

Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead
Michelle at Mid-Life Blogger

Michelle at Souly Rested

Kacey at Rustic Ranch Wife

The Inquisitive Farmwife

Crystal at Homemade Happiness

Nadine at Making Her Mama

We’re giving away ten packets of heirloom seeds valued at $49, courtesy of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! This giveaway will begin on Monday, Feb 20 at 1:00 am Central Time and end on Sunday, Feb 26 at 11:59 pm Central Time. Open to US and Canada residents age 18 and over. Please note that seed varieties will vary from the photo.

Enter below by signing in with your email address and following the directions for each entry. We’ve given you a free entry to start. After completing an entry’s requirement, use your browser’s back button to return to this page and move on to the next entry.

One winner will be randomly chosen by Giveaway Tools after the giveaway ends, and we’ll notify the winner with an email sent to the address they used to enter. Winner will have 48 hours to respond with their mailing address. If winner fails to respond, another winner will be chosen. We’ll send the winner’s mailing address to Baker Creek Seeds and they will ship the prize package directly.

 

 

The Best Way to Stick to Your Goals – A Gardening Update

The Best Way to Stick to Your Goals – A Gardening Update

What is the best way to stick to your goals? Accountability.

That’s right.  Having someone to be held accountable to is the best way to stick to your goals!  And whether I want it or not, after publicly declaring my gardening goals, I now have accountability to you!

But, I am not one to run from a challenge. So, instead, as the weather warmed and the snow melted, I armed myself.

For the last week the kids and I have been outside every day for about 2 hours. Our first goal (in case you missed my post 5 Gardening Goals for 2017) is to tackle the blackberry brambles that run down one entire side of our yard.  

When we looked into the best ways to clear brambles, there weren’t a lot of options.  The top 3 suggestions that cropped up over and over were:

  1. Spraying the fall with roundup to kill the plants right down to the roots.
  2. Letting goats eat them away for us.
  3. Handpicking all the brambles, pulling as much root system as possible and maintenance killing.

Spraying with Roundup

I did a lot of reading and talked to a few gardening pros, but the reviews on Roundup were mixed.  Like any highly controversial topic, people were either highly for it or highly against it.  The benefits are that when sprayed in the fall the plant absorbs the roundup through its leaves and takes it down into the root system where it kills the plant completely.  The criticism is that Roundup can remain in the ground for up to 5 years and affect the soil afterwards.  Because we are hoping to plant food sources directly over the bramble patch, we decided to eliminate this option.

Letting Goats Eat Them

I was kicking myself when I read this one!  We actually had goats for several weeks last year.  However, I quickly realized that our yard wasn’t well set up for goats.  And, our land is actually a bit small for them as well.  Our goats were very sweet though and if any animal were to be in our future I would love to have goats.  They followed us around and played with the kids and they were very gentle.  But, these goats were also a bit mischievous. They got bored and started climbing the chicken tractor.  One goat actually punctured a hole in the side of the chicken wire and the birds all got out.  

Now that I am a much more seasoned feather mama,  I wouldn’t panic.  Chickens are great at coming home on their own.  However, back then I had only had the birds about a week, and the goats just as long.  I was 7 months pregnant with a 7 year old and a 1 year old and my husband was in the hospital.  As much as we loved the goats, we gave them back. 

Handpicking The Brambles

So, with the other two options eliminated, we are down to getting rid of these thorny devils by hand. With no other options, this has to be the best way to stick to our goals.  Pulling all those brambles seemed like a daunting task, but once we got started it actually moved along pretty quickly.  I think I got the easier of the 2 tasks we have.  I spend my time the garden hacking down the brambles with long handled snips and raking up the mess and piling it onto a tarp.  Joel, my husband, then gets to drag the tarp to the side gate and dump all the brambles into our trailer to haul away.  He also gets to dig up the root stalks.  

We have made it about a third of the way down the yard removing all the visible brambles.  Joel has cleared the root stalks from about 2/3 of the area that will be our new garden!  

This weekend Joel and I were going to finish pulling the stalks and then erect the fence that will surround our new space.  

But, instead…(insert sound of needle being dragged across a record that was playing your favourite homesteading jam) winter came back for seconds……

The best way to stick to your goals is to have accountability.  Come and see how I am sticking to my gardening goals!!!

So, even though I have my accountability to you, part of the best way to stick to your goals is having Mother Nature as an ally.

Next week I will be sharing my garden plan and seed choices.  I’ll also be announcing the details for a seed giveaway with #Happyathomebloggers.  You don’t want to miss this one!

Cheers,

Nadine

Owl Winter Nature Study – A Charlotte Mason style lesson

Owl Winter Nature Study – A Charlotte Mason style lesson

Welcome back to our winter nature study series!!!  If you are newly joining us, you can check out the first two portions of the series here {Week 1: Winter Nature Study – A lesson on trees; Week 2: Winter Nature Study – A focus on Astronomy}.  This weeks lesson is covering owls and leading into nocturnal animals.  I am so excited to do an owl winter nature study because in addition to these birds being beautiful and amazing, they happen to live all around our area!

Charlotte Mason Style Nature Study

Our nature study is based around a Charlotte Mason style nature study guide (one for each season) that I got several years ago on CurrClick. For more information on these study guides you can see my review in the first post of the series – Winter Nature Study – A lesson on trees.  Or, you can take a look at the guide and purchase it at CurrClick where they’re currently on sale for only $6.50 per guide as a pdf! For more information on Charlotte Mason and why you would want to  use her teaching methods visit Simply Charlotte Mason

We’re a bit behind in terms of dates but the joy of homeschooling says Who Cares!!  We are interested and learning so we’re just going to continue on with January’s learning in the start of February.

Teaching Resources

 First of all, I really value being able to teach my boys any information through conversation while we are out playing, on a walk or just living life.  So, I use the Apologia Exploring Creation series to top up my knowledge.  The information in these texts is simple to follow and reads like a story!  For our owl winter nature study I will be referring to the Flying Creatures of the Fifth Day textbook.

I am a huge fan of Gail Gibbons’s books and I just recently got her book Owls.  I will be using it as a read aloud for the boys while they build legos or play cars.  (It’s amazing how much information they absorb while playing!  It truly blows my mind!!)

Language Arts

To incorporate our language arts, we are using poetry for memorization, copy work and dictation.  If you’re looking for a compilation book of poetry, another book I highly recommend is Favorite Poems Old & New. This week we will be reading The Owl & The Pussycat from our poetry book.  This is one of my all time favourite poems!  Since it’s a bit long for our handwriting, we will be using Three Little Owlets from the nature study guide.  I’ve created a printable version for you to use as well.  I put the printed poem into an 8 1/2 x 11 dollar store picture frame hung above Izzy’s desk.  This brings it to our minds often and allows for reading throughout the week other than during our focussed work time.

A Free Printable for you!

A sweet poem perfect for memorization, copy work or dictation in a Charlotte Mason style owl winter nature study. Click thru to blog to get your free printable!

 (You can download your copy of the Three Little Owlets printable for your own home use!)

As with the previous weeks, Izzy and I will both read the poem aloud on Monday afternoon.  Then, on Tuesday and Wednesday we will use the poem for copy work.  Finally, Thursday and Friday I will dictate to him.  We do 1-2 stanzas per day.

We will also be reading A Wise Old Owl.  If you don’t know this one, it is a wisdom quote that lends to good character trait discussion. 

A Wise old owl sat on an oak.  The more he saw the less he spoke.  The less he spoke the more he heard.  Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?

A wise old owl sat on an oak, the more he saw, the less he spoke... Click To Tweet

Along with this saying we will be using James 1:19 as our scripture verse for the week.

James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak... Click To Tweet

I love how perfectly this quote ties into the wisdom saying and in our household it is the perfect timing as we’ve found a need to refocus our listening skills.

An Owl Winter Nature Study Walk

This week our focus will be on owls and we know that we have them living in our area.  We can hear them sometimes at night.  Also, we stumbled across a pair of them in the woods at the provincial park a few months before Christmas.  We want to see if we can find some owl pellets to dissect!

If you have never experienced the wonder of dissecting an owl pellet you are in for a thrill.  Owl pellets are not feces, but vomit.  It truly is riveting to open up these hard pellets to discover the fur, bones, teeth, feathers, or shells hidden inside.  As such, you can use these treasures to help figure out what the owl was eating.  If you don’t have owls in your area or don’t want to go traipsing through the woods looking for owl puke, you can order your owl pellets online.

Our Weekly Art Project

In my online browsing I came across a plethora of wonderful owl crafts and art projects.  So, it was hard to choose which one to focus on.  Instead I’m going to let Izzy pick the one that speaks to him the most.  Here are my four favourite possibilities to add to this weeks Owl Winter Nature Study.

Owl art project ideas to go along with our owl winter nature study. For lesson plans and resources click to see my blog post and join in or follow along!

 

The top two art projects come from Deep Space Sparkle. Owl Art Ideas is a free printable with a guide teaching kids how to draw owls and a colouring page as well.  How to draw and paint owls is a free art lesson on the website aimed towards the younger elementary crowd (Kindergarten/Grade 1) and is based on the teaching guide previously mentioned.  As you may have read in my other posts on Nature Study, I love deep space sparkle because the website is well laid out and easy to navigate.  Furthermore, there are several free lesson and many affordable lessons too.  Patty, the owner and teacher, has a wonderful way of walking you through a lesson so that you know exactly what you need to do and how to do it.  Finally, I really appreciate her teaching style as I am artistically challenged.  

Lastly, the bottom left photo is from Art Dish with MJ and has basic instructions for how to recreate this type of picture.  However, this project is aimed at older elementary or early high school students.

The bottom right picture has no lesson associated with it.  An artist, Sassi, created these stones and her Facebook page dedicated to her work on stones.  These beautiful rocks would be fun to try and recreate with the kids using acrylic paints!

I would love to see what you get up to for your nature study!  Make sure to leave a comment and let me know!!

If you enjoyed this post or any others you can subscribe and follow me on Instagram (@makinghermama), Twitter (@makinghermama) and Facebook.  I’m also on Pinterest as Makinghermama!  Here’s a pin so you can save this lesson for later.

A Charlotte Mason inspired winter nature study on Owls. Featuring a free lesson plan, resources, activities and a printable. This is the perfect addition to any homeschool learning or outdoors oriented family. 

Cheers,

Nadine

 

Chaotic Bliss Homeschooling

 

Canadian Sources for Resources


 

 

 

 

5 Gardening Goals for 2017

5 Gardening Goals for 2017

This post may contain affiliate links.  These links provide a small compensation to me for advertising products that I use and support at no additional cost to you.  Links to Amazon within the post will take you to the .com site.  Resources for Canadians can be found down at the bottom of the post.

I purposefully held off on making any New Years Resolutions.  They seem doomed to fail from the start.  So, instead, I made a list of my top 10 gardening goals for 2017.  This feels like a big year in the garden for us.  I’m not pregnant.  I don’t have an infant.  I should be able to accomplish something out there this year towards feeding the family!

I’m really excited about our garden because we are also starting from a kind of clean slate.  Over the 3 years we have been on our property, the boys did start building me a garden.  However, as our love of chickens grew, so did our need for space.  I sacrificed my 12ft x 4ft garden plot in a fully fenced garden area for my feathered friends.  

This year I’m moving the main garden to the other side of our shed.  Instead of going with a raised bed square foot garden as I’ve always done in the past (and works wonders on city lots), I’m trying something new.  We’re going to have an old fashioned, war-time, country garden.  The new section to be fenced off is 17 ft . 35ft = 595 square feet!  I think I won the trade off!!!

So, given that this undertaking has to happen over the next 6-8 weeks in order for us to be ready to plant.  I’ve also been reading the The Quarter-Acre Farm: How I Kept the Patio, Lost the Lawn, and Fed My Family for a Year by Spring Warren.  This sweet story, mixed with gardening wisdom and recipes has given me great focus for this year.  Her story starts where every good garden starts – with soil  So, this brings me to our first goal…

Gardening Goal 1: Create excellent soil for things to grow

We have several means for creating excellent soil, and lucky for me, most of them are already in place and just need a bit of tweaking.

Homemade compost is the best fertilizer around – and as you already know – we have chickens! Chicken manure is hot so it needs to be composted before being applied to the ground around plants.  My goal is to create a 3 bin compost system for dealing with the chicken manure and creating useable gold for my garden beds.

If you follow my journey on Instagram then you also know that we have a rabbit (or sometimes two…).  We are going to take our old hutch and run system and reuse what we can to build a rabbit tractor.  This benefits our rabbits by allowing us to expose them to new grass every day.  This benefits the yard from all their wonderful droppings, and I can rake up what is in excess to apply directly to my garden beds.

By the way, did you know that 2 rabbits can produce the same amount of manure as a cow?!?! Click To Tweet

We also have worms!!! I know that sounds bad and gross, but red wigglers are amazing creatures!  Okay, so we don’t technically have worms…we had worms, but i still have the bins.  We need to make a wooden stand to hold the bins off the ground and add a spigot to aid in collecting the urine for fertilizer.  This can be used on all of our garden beds in the yard and gets diluted down 1:20 so a little bit goes a far way!

Gardening Goal 2: Kill the brambles

Every place has its challenges.  In our last yard it was ivy – it was everywhere!  And in the 5 years that we were in that house I’m still not sure we eradicated it!

Now, we have inherited blackberry brambles.  They are 12 feet wide and run down one entire side of our property.  I like blackberries as much as the next person, but that is a lot of valuable growing space.  They are also an invasive species and they spread like crazy.  Finally, they also grow wild all over our island so foraging provides when I want them.

They are a priority because they currently take up a 12 ft x 17 ft section of my new garden area!  Therefore, in order to get the soil ready (and to move on with my gardening goals) they have got to go! If you have any great tips for demolishing these wild beasts without chemicals, I’d love to hear them!  Leave me a comment below…

Gardening Goal 3: Finish the garden

To get the garden ready for planting we have several steps left to take.  Over the last year I have been creating a lasagna garden in the back area.  We were getting humungous boxes monthly from both my Usborne shipments and from Amazon subscribe and save. So, we lay the cardboard down to kill the grass.

On top of that we have been putting chicken manure.  We were also blessed with a nice big trailer load of well composted goat manure and straw which has been spread over 1/2 the garden.  The raked up rabbit pellets have also layered several areas.

So, once the brambles are gone we will be getting loads of garden soil to create our planting medium on top of the composted manure and cardboard.  This could take several weeks as we are going to need about 4-5 trailer loads to get a good enough depth for planting.

Once the soil is in, we need to fence in the area to keep out the wild animals  children.  We also have to place a short layer of fencing around the inside of the fence to keep out the wild rabbits that grace our garden and nibble anything trying to grow.

Gardening Goal 4: Maintain what we have

I could go to town with all my ideas for the backyard and all the things I would like to grow.  But, as I read over and over, a garden takes time.  So, I’m trying to stick with realistic steps.  Once the garden is done we plan to plant things that we love, eat regularly and have grown in the past.

  • My planting list includes: 
    • peas and beans
    • corn
    • squash
    • tomatoes
    • salad greens
    • kale and chard
    • herbs

Keeping this things alive and well so that they can feed us, requires water.  I want to get some rain barrels this year so that when the water restrictions kick in (as they do every year – sometimes as early as April) I have my own supply to be watering with.  It also saves me having to drag the hose from the house all the way to the back of the garden as well.

Our gardening tools are what one would call well loved (or possibly neglected).  So my other job is to gives the tools an overhaul.  I want to sand down all the handles and protect them with linseed oil.  The metal heads will need a good clean, soak in vinegar to remove rust, and then a rub down with oil to protect them.  

To make sure that they stay well maintained, I’m going to convert the false back of our shed into a storage area for my garden tools and supplies.  It’s right inside the garden area and not really used for anything, making it the perfect space.  It’s just big enough to store everything.  I can’t wait to tackle this space.

Gardening Goal 5: Plant Dahlias

Every girl needs something beautiful!  My love is Dahlias.  They are my favourite kind of flower and over the last few years I’ve been trying my hand at them.  They seem to grow well in our well draining soil and hot back yard.  Therefore, one of my gardening goals is to plant them in several areas and see where else they grow.  I’d like to grow enough of them to keep my house filled with flowers and sell some at a little road side stand.

So, those are my 5 gardening goals for 2017!  

It’s so nice to see what people’s beautifully maintained, already well designed and functioning garden looks like so that we can dream big!  However, it’s also nice to see a project from start to finish.   I hope you’ll follow along as we pluck through our goals.  I’m excited to share our gardening journey with you as we start our garden from scratch!  You can subscribe to my blog to get all the updates on our garden in your inbox.  Just use the box below to enter your email.  You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter for the latest news on what we’re doing.

What plans do you have for your garden this year?  I’d love to hear what your gardening goals are for 2017!

Cheers,

Nadine

 

Canadian Sources for Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Winter Nature Study – a focus on astronomy

Winter Nature Study – a focus on astronomy

Please note that this post does contain affiliate links.  These links help support my blog at no additional cost to you should you choose to buy one of my recommended products.

Our first week of nature study (Winter Nature Study – a lesson on trees) went very well, and it actually spilled over into two weeks because we were so intrigued.  The snow that we’ve had lately has increased our nature walk appeal because we don’t usually have this much snow, ice, or cold and certainly not for this long.  But, as all good things must end, it’s time to move on to our next topic.  We are now doing a week of astronomy winter nature study.

I will be using the same resources from my first post in this series Winter Nature Study – A lesson on Trees. I am really pleased with our nature study guides from Katie’s Homeschool Cottage and would recommend them to anyone looking for a place to start studying nature.  They have a good list of resources and activities to choose from to fit any family dynamic.

Our second topic for January is Astronomy in the Winter.  

After going through the resources and activities listed, I’ve parred it down to what will interest Izzy.  

The poem we are reading for our astronomy winter nature study is from our nature study guide.  Izzy selected Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  After our initial reading of the poem, Izzy was surprised by all the stanza’s he hadn’t heard before.  We have a book at home that is an adaptation to Twinkle, Twinkle so he is familiar with a very different version.  It is now one of Mickey Blue’s favourite books too!  Add it to the list of books I love – it’s Twinkle,Twinkle,Little Star-Board Book by Iza Trapani (affiliate link).  We’ve actually owned this book since T, my oldest, was only a toddler.  We passed along most of the possessions our boys outgrew or grew tired of, but this is one treasure we have held on to.

We started the week off reading the poem; first myself, then Izzy to me, on Monday.  Then, by his choice, we have alternated copy work with dictation (which has happened to work out well with my littles).  We go over one stanza per day making sure he knows each of the words, spells them correctly, and discuss any grammar that is relevant.  

As a side note, we’ve also been keeping his handiwork because we will be including it with letters we are sending to different family members each month.  I think letter writing is truly a lost art, and I am determined to revive it in my children.  They are actually very enthusiastic about it.  And who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail!

A Night Time Nature Walk – not for the faint of heart

Unfortunately, for us, we are faint of heart.  At least this week.  We are all recovering from a tummy bug so we haven’t ventured out of our house very much.  But given that our astronomy winter nature study requires quite a bit of darkness, this actually works out.

It should also give Mickey Blue time to forget our last nature walk.  In the search for stumps we went trampling through the brush into the woods, off the beaten path.  Poor Mickey had a branch fly back and smack him in the face.  A small piece of the branch actually broke off and was sticking out of the corner of his eye (yikes!).  After a moment of sheer mommy panic, I was relieved to discover it was sitting right on top of the tear duct and hadn’t gone in any further.  After about 5 minutes of duress he was ready to traverse again.  He is amazing little trooper this guy!

Night time Viewing for our Astronomy Winter Nature Study

Our goal this week is to look up at the night sky and learn to identify some of the constellations.  Many of them are familiar to Izzy already because we live out in the country where it is very easy to see the stars.  We don’t even have any street lights on our street and the city glow is pretty far off and at a lower elevation from us.

We’re going to be looking for the North Star, the Little Dipper, and the Big Dipper.   We’re also going to see if we can locate part of the Milky Way (something I’ve never done before!).  We have done some work on Moon Phases in the past.  So, we will review them and then keep track of them for the week.  If you’re new to moon phases, I highly recommend Gail Gibbon’s The Moon Book (affiliate link).  (I LOVE all her books!)

I have an iPhone and I downloaded the app SkyView (the free version). This will help us locate the stars in the night sky and identify planets, if we can see them.  (A great use of technology to add to our astronomy winter nature study!) An app called Star Chart is recommended for those who have an android phone. It has great reviews – though I haven’t tried it myself.  

For more information for my sharing purposes, I will be using Exploring Creation: With Astronomy  (affiliate link) to get my knowledge up to snuff.  We also have National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space (affiliate link) which has some fabulous real life pictures from space and a good starting amount of information on the stars and constellations (including the big and little dipper and the North star – convenient!).

Activities for the week

This weeks activities will also be based around the constellations.  I will draw them out on black paper in chalk for the kids to see.  They then get to recreate the constellations with mini-marshmallows and toothpicks.

And finally, to round out our astronomy winter nature study, we have an art project for the week.  We are going to once again venture over to Deep Space Sparkle. This week we will be using the Starry Night Mixed-Media lesson.  This lesson is a paid one – $5 for the digital download.  But, I just love how Patty, the owner of DSS, walks you through every step to help your child create a beautiful art piece.  Well worth the $5 for me!  

Let me know if you follow along with our Charlotte Mason inspired astronomy winter nature study.  I’d love to see your kids art work, crafts, or nature journals or hear what you’ve been learning about.

If you would like to receive updates from my blog straight to your email box please subscribe in the box below!  I also have a free printable – “Astronomy Winter Nature Study” – as a thank you.

A free printable to help you with your astronomy winter nature study. Well suited to Charlotte Mason style studies. Space for dictation or copywork, a famous quote, constellation drawings and watching the phases of the moon.

My recommended resources from this lesson plan: (affiliate links)

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The best fridge cleaner recipe – all natural ingredients!

The best fridge cleaner recipe – all natural ingredients!

Who likes cleaning out their kitchen fridge?  Well, okay, I kind of do, but it’s not so much that I enjoy cleaning my fridge.  It’s more that I appreciate a clean fridge. (Which I did not currently have…) And nothing works better than this fridge cleaner recipe!  

Why I burned my daily homeschool schedule! (Part 2)

Why I burned my daily homeschool schedule! (Part 2)

In part 1 of this post I talked about ditching our daily homeschool schedule in favour of finding a daily rhythm. As promised, here is a close up of what that really looks like in my house…

First things first

Between 6 and 7am we wake up (whenever we naturally wake up – i haven’t had a clock or alarm in my room since I was a nurse).  Once we’re up and going we get ready for the day – diapers are changed, everyone gets dressed, teeth and hair is brushed, beds are made and dirty laundry gathered and taken to the laundry room.  About an hour has passed once we’ve finished all our tasks.  Then we migrate…

What I’ve found in the past with a daily homeschool schedule is that we weren’t having enough change of scenery in our days and the kids were getting a bit stir crazy.  So, we do all our mornings things in the bedroom end of the house.  We migrate to the kitchen once we are all done.  At this point Little Lou is usually content to go on my back having spent a good chunk of time exploring on the floor in the bedroom.  I put him in the tula and pull out a sensory bin for Mickey Blue (and Izzy – if he wants to join in).  They play while I make breakfast and unload the dishwasher.

*First adaptation to our new rhythm…. Izzy runs out and lets the chickens out because it takes us a little longer to get to our outdoor chores than I first anticipated.

Time to head outside

After eating, we clean up from breakfast and head outside.  As we get suited up in the laundry room which leads outside, I put on the load of dirty laundry.  We have rabbits and chickens that Izzy is learning to care for.  Mickey Blue also likes to help out – he helps carry feed and checks for eggs.  We feed the chickens, change their water and clean the poop from the coop.  Izzy feeds the rabbits, changes their water and checks on their bedding.  Every week we move the coop and run.  We spend about an hour outside, working and playing.  (It’s too cold to enjoyably play much longer right now.)

Another change of scenery

Around 10:30 or 11, we head back in.  We clean up, warm up and head to the classroom.  (In case you missed it, we just dedicated a room in our house to be Our new homeschool classroom!) Izzy and I do bible study while the younger boys play.  There’s always a lot of interruptions – which would have wreaked havoc on our daily homeschool schedule – so we spend about 45 minutes playing and learning.  Our bible program, Bible Study Guide For All Ages (review coming soon….), works well with all the interruptions.  Once we complete our lesson we clean up the toys (unless Mickey is getting squirrely – then Izzy does it or we return to it after lunch).

The pack divides

Izzy moves onto independent work – 15 or more minutes of independent reading of his choice & a lesson in math.  We use Math-U-See – there’s a video introduction at the start of each new lesson that we watch together, then Izzy can compete the lessons by himself.  He knows I am available to him during this time; he just needs to bring his work to me.  I make lunch, Luke goes back in the tula and usually naps now, and Mickey has free time in the living room (scenery change!) or with a sensory bin in the kitchen.  

Lunch time

Once lunch is ready we reconvene and eat together at the table.  We also read our weekly poetry which we use for copy work or dictation.  Mondays we read the poem.  Tuesday and Wednesday we use it for dictation. Thursday and Friday Izzy does copy work.

Afternoon (literally…)

Afternoons are still a little more fuzzy.  

Mondays we play outside (weather permitting), start dinner, put away any laundry, spot clean any hot spots in the house, and head out for music lessons at 4pm.

Tuesday afternoons are for Nature Walks – see my blog post about our Winter Nature Study. Izzy has music lessons again on Tuesdays so we stick close to home for our nature walk.  Then afternoon chores and dinner prep.

Wednesdays are visiting days when we have some standing playdates or family visits at our place.  

Thursdays we go for a Nature Walk further from home (requires a car ride). Our goal this year is to explore new parks and paths in our community.  

Fridays are like Mondays but we have no music lessons – Izzy and dad go swimming in the evening instead.

And that, in a large nutshell, is our new rhythm.  So far it is working really well for us.  What about you?   Or does a daily homeschool schedule work better for you?

To continue following along on our homeschooling journey subscribe to my blog below!!

 
Why I burned my daily homeschool schedule!!

Why I burned my daily homeschool schedule!!

Do you love schedules?  Me too! Do you have a daily homeschool schedule?  I have found them to be the worst thing for my homeschooling, especially with toddlers and babies around.  With a little one, it only takes an unexpected diaper change to throw off your delicate plans.  Or a missing bottle to eliminate one item on the agenda.  OR….you get the picture.

For years I have battled with our daily homeschool schedule.  Every summer I find myself thinking, if I could just find the right schedule, l’m sure I could make it work.  And every September, I set out, like a new kindergartener, excited for the journey ahead, new schedule in hand……only to find that by October things are starting to slip below my expectations….

Winter nature study – A lesson on trees

Winter nature study – A lesson on trees

It is officially the New Year and we are back to “school”.  One of the things that I wanted to incorporate more in this year was nature study. Given the season, we are starting with a winter nature study!  I love nature and the idea of studying it, but honestly, it intimidates me.  There is so much to know, and I feel like I know so little of it.  

I was really lucky to get my hands on 4 awesome Charlotte Mason style nature study guides (one for each season) during a Currclick special several years ago.  (For more information on Charlotte Mason and why you would want to  use her teaching methods visit Simply Charlotte Mason.)  Since then, they have been sitting, beautifully bound, on a book shelf collecting dust.  Well, no more!  This is the year we are going to really use them….

A Letter to Every Mother…..

A Letter to Every Mother…..

To every mother out there,

I may not know you.  I don’t know your background or your history.  And I don’t know your family.  But, as a mother, there are a few things that I do know…

Nadine Best

I am a follower of Jesus, SAHM, THMer, and homeschooler to my 4 boys. I love to garden and am a wanna be homesteader. I also LOVE organizing.

The Christian Ladies Network
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  • Never to young to start learning... Little Lou is playing with our wooden abacus. #letthembelittle #letthemplay
  • Lately Mickey Blue (our toddler) has loved playing with rice bins. So we went for a Valentines theme. I colored the rice with watercolor concentrate! The colors are so vibrant and it dries quickly. No need for vinegar!!!
  • They did well!! We stayed in the kitchen to play. Toddler poked a few cubes of jello. I showed him you can eat them. His response was "EEEW" and that was the end of sensory play for him. The baby on the other hand had great fun 💕 Happy #valentinesday
  • Feeling brave!! Our #valentinesday sensory bin!!! Going to put the baby & the toddler in the tub and let them explore. Wish me luck 💕 Happy Valentines Day everyone!
  • Upcoming project.... shaker jars for sounds matching with the toddler!!! #craft  #crafty #diy #montessoriathome
  • Crocuses are coming up in the gardens!!! We also have garlic that was coming up before we got another foot of snow!!! #signsofspring